Following a three-year investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Guernsey-based Immuno Biotech owner David Noakes has today been sentenced to a total of 15 months in prison in Southwark Crown Court.
Noakes was sentenced after pleading guilty to 4 charges relating to the manufacture and sale and supply of an unlicensed medicine (GcMAF), and one count of money laundering.
Globulin component Macrophage Activating Factor (GcMAF) is a product made from human blood, sold by a Guernsey-based company called Immuno Biotech, headed by David Noakes.
GcMAF was advertised as a ‘miracle cure’ for a range of conditions including cancer, HIV and autism. There is no scientific basis for any of Noake’s claims about the product and the court heard Noakes made approximately £10 million from the sale of GcMAF between 2012 and 2015.
GcMAF was sold through various European websites and UK patients may have bought it from one of these websites. Following MHRA’s investigation, production has now stopped.
Noakes’ sentencing comes after an MHRA investigation spanning more than three years, beginning in January 2015.
Following concerns about the product raised by the Guernsey medicines regulator, the MHRA carried out an unannounced inspection of the company’s production site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, where the product was manufactured.
The inspection uncovered that unlicensed manufacturing was taking place, the site did not meet Good Manufacturing Practice standards and that the blood plasma material used to make the product was not suitable for human use, labelled as: “Not to be administered to humans or used in any drug products”.
The MHRA seized more than 10,000 vials at the site to the value of £5.5 million, and warned people not to purchase GcMAF.
Noakes was circulated as wanted by the MHRA in 2015. By this time Noakes had relocated his business to France, but in February 2017 following a tip off was arrested by Dorset police, having flown into Bournemouth Airport in his own private aircraft from Cherbourg, France.
Noakes’ ex-wife, Loraine Noakes, received a suspended sentence to be determined later after pleading guilty to the sale and supply of unlicensed medicines. Rodney Smith and Emma Ward, who manufactured the product, were respectively sentenced to 8 months in prison and a suspended sentence to be determined later.
Brian Hall, who attempted to take GcMAF out of the UK, will be sentenced at a later date.
MHRA Head of Enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey, said:
“Today’s sentencing marks the culmination of a complex three-year investigation by MHRA to protect public health.
“Our investigation team worked relentlessly to bring David Noakes and his associates to justice, for putting public health at risk through the unlicensed manufacturing and sale of GcMAF products. The product was manufactured using blood plasma that was clearly marked as not to be administered to humans or used in any drug products”.
“We strongly advise people not to use unlicensed products such as GcMAF, which may pose a significant risk to health.
“To make sure you get the best advice in relation to your health, visit your GP or other health professional, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or registered pharmacy. If you’re buying medicines online, make sure you buy from a site which is properly regulated and displays the distance selling logo.
“Patient safety is our highest priority and we will continue to track and prosecute criminals who exploit public health for their own gain.”